Friday, July 09, 2004


Pick your...uh..."expert".
Headline:Experts: VP choices rarely tip scales
But then there is this:
Headline: Experts: Choice Could Swing Election
(via OpinionJournal)

Goes to Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online.
If the new (Michael)Moore-standard says you can be a force for good even if you argue through half-truths, guilt-by-association and innuendo, then the case against Joe McCarthy evaporates entirely. He did, after all, have the larger truths on his side.


For Victor Davis Hanson, the smartest analyst I know of.

Just go read it all here.
Last week, the carnivore Saddam Hussein faced the world in the docket. There was none of the usual Middle East barbarity. The mass murderer was not hooded and then beheaded on tape, in the manner of al Qaeda. Civilization has come to Iraq.

Nor was the destroyer of Iraqi dissidents hitched — Saudi-style — to a Humvee and dragged to pieces through the streets of Baghdad. The pillager of Kuwait did not lose a limb on the precepts of a sharia-inspired fatwa. A young Saddam-like Baathist assassin did not break in and shoot the desecrator of the Mesopotamian marshlands in the back of the head. And a West Bank-like mob did not lynch the torturer of dissidents in the public square. Even al Jazeera, an enthusiast of the usual barbarity, was wondering what the heck was going on in its own neck of the medieval woods.

Surely, the slow emergence of real civilization in Iraq is one of the seminal events in the history of an Arab and Muslim Middle East that has had no prior record of either consensual government or an independent judiciary. ...The more Washington, D.C., insiders insist that the transfer of power was a meaningless construct, the more we are beginning to see the future shape of an autonomous, free, and civilized Iraq. Don't listen to cynical American reporters and played-out professors who laugh at the idea of civilization. Watch instead how dictators and monarchs in the region recoil at it all. After all, such autocrats have lots to worry about: 70 percent of the world is democratic; excluding Israel, 0 percent of the Middle East is...

Only belatedly has John Kerry grasped that his shrill supporters are often not just trivial but stark-raving mad. If he doesn't quickly jump into some Levis, shoot off a shotgun, and start hanging out in Ohio, he will lose this election and do so badly.

The war that Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards once caricatured as a fiasco and amoral is now, for all its tragedies, emerging in some sort of historical perspective as a long-overdue liberation. At some point, one must choose: Saddam in chains or Saddam in power. And the former does not happen with rhetoric, but only through risk, occasional heartbreak, and the courage of the U.S. military. If Iyad Allawi and his brave government succeed — and they just may — the United States will have done more for world freedom and civilization than the fall of the Berlin Wall — and against far greater odds...

There is a great divide unfolding between the engine of history and the dumbfounded spectators who are apparently furious at what is going on before their eyes. Mr. Bush's flight suit, Abu Ghraib, claims of "no al Qaeda-Saddam ties," Joe Wilson, and still more come and go while millions a world away inch toward consensual government and civilization.
In Baghdad this week, the Post's own Matthew Gutman found both the fledgling government and the man on the street to be more confident and astute than often credited. Though security is clearly the top priority, the government rejected offers from Yemen and Jordan to send peacekeepers. Nor is the Iraqi street interested in seeing troops from any Arab or Muslim country.

"The toppling of Saddam is affecting all our neighboring countries," said Ali Rubai, relaxing in a Baghdad cafe. "The leaders of the Arab world fear such changes, and therefore will try to prevent a better future for Iraq."

Meanwhile, despite the fact that Iraqi police are being blown up by terrorists at an alarming rate, Gutman found that Iraqis are literally lining up for hours to join the police.

In some places, anti-Zarqawi vigilantes are popping up to fight the terrorists who are plaguing Iraq, and the Alawi government has just given itself emergency powers to allow widespread detentions in some areas. We can expect the next year or so to be messy, but there is little doubt that Iraqis understand they have been given the opportunity for a future they don't want to lose and are willing to fight for.
Iraq's first bond market will open this month, a move designed to ensure that the Iraqi government won't repeat Saddam Hussein's ruinous economic policies.

At the first bond auction, scheduled for July 18, Iraqi banks can bid for about 150 billion dinars (a little more than $100 million) worth of government debt, the finance ministry announced Wednesday.

Iraqi authorities for the first time are letting free market forces set interest rates in Iraq. The yield at the auction will set an unprecedented benchmark in Iraq, allowing commercial lenders to price loans more rationally.
Twenty-four-year-old Hajear and her sister Sarah, 26, are police officers in Iraq. They say they want to serve as role models for other Iraqi women who are used to working modestly in the home.

Hajear and Sarah arrived at the Al-Khadra police station in northern Baghdad just five days ago, after finishing a two-month training course. They wear blue Iraqi police uniforms and carry guns. Their faces are not covered, but they do wear Muslim head scarves. The sisters constantly smile and laugh. They are two of some 300 women serving on the Baghdad police force...

"My family encouraged me to be a police officer and to be an example of an Iraqi woman as a policewoman,” Hajear says. “They are afraid when I leave home and come back, but I was trained how to protect myself. I am not afraid."...

Sarah says she is ready to challenge a society run by men, to prove that women are equals.

"Women had pressure on them, and [men] would never let [a woman] serve in the police. Now, we have [female government] ministers. With God's help, we are police officers. Maybe in the future, I will be president," Sarah says.
U.S. Soldiers in Iraq discovered an apparent bomb-making facility and several weapons caches, senior U.S. military officials announced Tuesday at a Baghdad news briefing.

Army 1st Cavalry Division troops found the site in Baghdad recently, the official told reporters, noting the makeshift factory seemed to specialize in outfitting vehicles with explosives.

He explained that four vehicles were being outfitted as VBIEDs, shorthand for "vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices." Baghdad and other areas in Iraq have been hit recently by such car bombings.

The military official added that the Soldiers also discovered 12 million dinars in Iraqi currency at the site.

A soldier writes to his hometown newspaper.
"I'm looking forward to finally be able to hold my wife in my arms again and tell her I love her face to face instead of in e-mail and letters. After awhile, it starts to feel like it's all a dream that we are married..."

On Wednesday I noted an unusual proximity in the photo of Kerry and Edwards.

On Thursday the Drudge Report noticed it too.

Excerpts from a letter sent by an officer to his unit's family members as the 1AD units begin the redeployment from Iraq.
. Excitement abounds but we all are still a bit wary. We have had a few rocket attacks in the last three days of which one of them wounded two soldiers. What is wrong with these Iraqi insurgents? These people must be the same people that would go out of their way to poke a grizzly bear in the eye vs. letting him lumber by. I just cannot understand what goals are their aims other than trying to unhinge the Democratic process. They want power, I assume, with a religious base so they can control people and gain the prestige and riches for themselves. Sounds kind of like Saddam’s Baath Party system to me.

One of the Iraqis that work for me was threatened today that unless he paid $4000 dollars someone would kill part of his family. He says he will not pay as other Iraqis would do and is prepared to defend himself and his family by killing anyone that would take away his freedom.

This concept he grasps is foreign here but he has grasped it. He is willing to die to be free of fear and intimidation. I wish I could lie in wait with him and blast those godless bastards to hell as they come to retrieve the blackmail money. I can’t legally do that now as the Iraqis are now in charge. It is time for the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi people to set their own course for having safe and secure lives. I know the Iraqis are better prepared than the rest of the world and media give them credit for. The Iraqi people know they have to do this if they want to survive. These people are survivors and will make it. It will just take time...

My feeling of apprehension is really based on how will I and all of us re-enter the world we left behind. We all feel different and are changed. Will people we know see the change in on our faces and in our actions? Will we be expected to act a certain way? Will reactions to normal events we display be perceived as different now? I can only say it will work its way out and everyone will have to be patient.

I, like many, have a multitude of memories; all vivid but some good and some bad. How do you relay these vivid recollections without sounding over theatrical or a braggart or when we decline to discuss an event because it does not translate into the proper feeling or emotion thus paling or disrespecting the event or participants? I know from talking to other leaders and soldiers each are tired. They are not complacent or lackadaisical, but weary.

This weariness is probably attributed to all feeling a little blue and all being just tired of extended periods of heightened alertness. Just being slightly aware at all times, even while asleep, of noises and other peoples movements wears on the nerves. The extreme pressure of being out in sector compounds any mental recovery time to the point of dazing. Lastly, I think we are all proud of what First Armored Division accomplished here but was it enough. It seems so unfinished, though will it ever really be complete. We leave the lives of 135 soldiers here in Iraq. All died as fighters and all fought to the end. God bless them and their families...

The last fifteen months have seen freedom blossom here as one watches the caterpillar develop into the butterfly though we still are watching the cocoon in anticipation of that birth. I will remember extreme heat and biting, wet cold. I will remember laughing children, women wailing in their fits of sadness for loss of their loved ones and the glares of distrust. I will remember the sight of determined soldiers before battle and the dazed, crumbled looks of those survivors of other attacks.

I will remember how death comes to all people, soldiers and civilians alike. It is a surprise. We all fight till our last breath and we all never assume it is our last breath. We all really never know when death closes his hand around us as it comes without fanfare. As a light is tuned off at the switch, as a breeze ceases to blow, as a cloud changes shapes....all of these outcomes are unknown just as death greets each of us.

And finally the peace as each face shows the slackness of rest and the eternal sleep we will all enjoy eventually. I will remember being so frustrated at not being able to strike out in revenge that I thought I might explode. I remember true pride that I am in the First Armored Division. All these vivid memories will remain and I cannot wait to share with each of you.

The 425th day of CPT Patti's deployment.

That is one year, two months and three days.

I spoke to her briefly last night. Redeployment operations are in full swing. And she is tired. Very, very tired.

Thursday, July 08, 2004


Got 10 quiet minutes? Read all of this.

Note to Mom: I'm betting you will just love this.

(Thanks to Sarah for the link.)
The Iraqi government announced plans Wednesday to conduct a national census in October, a politically sensitive and potentially dangerous undertaking.

His mother is a reporter...and he's not happy with her colleagues.
"You aren't reading about the positive things we see every day. They aren't telling you about the Iraqis who talk to us and tell us how much better their country is now that Saddam is gone. Or how they bring us little treats and try to get us to eat their food...

"They bring their kids over here to talk to us and play ball. One of my guys wrote home and had his parents send baseballs and bats and we're teaching the kids how to play baseball...

"One woman told me her daughter is going to school. This is the first time she's been able to go. The woman said she never went because Saddam didn't believe in educating women. The girl (she's about 8) wants to be a nurse when she grows up.

"There's a school not far from us that has about 10 girls (all ages) and 40 boys (all ages). One of the teachers told me that nobody comes to class late and nobody skips classes and everybody does their homework.

"A lot of things have changed since the Gulf War... Nobody here trusted us then - it was hard to get anyone to talk to you unless they were prisoners. People talk to us now all the time. You can walk down a street and people come up and talk. If you wear your uniform when you go shopping, just about everybody in the store comes up to you and wants to talk about America. They might not all figure that we're their best friends, but they want to talk.

"Please tell people not to believe everything they're hearing and reading. Things are getting better and we're doing the right thing by being here.

"Love to everybody,


Up close with the guys in deepest, darkest Baghdad. Good read...however, it contains some strong (though, I'm certain, accurate) language.
"How'd you end up with us, is this an embed?" the ridiculously young looking soldier asked me as we crouched on the roof of a power transformer station, surveying downtown Baghdad...

The roof is hot. Baghdad's high temperature on Wednesday is 118 degrees and the men of squad two, second platoon of the 1st Cavalry Division's 1-9 Regiment have already lost three men to the heat and it's only about half past noon.

When told that I had just happened to hook up with their unit after being caught in the middle of a running gun battle in central Baghdad, one of the men laughs.

" just hooked up with the most dangerous squad in Baghdad," he says without looking up from his weapon, which is now trained on a small group of men several blocks away who are certainly not ING. Just what might be ordinary bravado from a young soldier echoes across the cement rooftop, his squad-mate clarifies.

"No really we are," he says. "Out of the 11 of us, only two haven't won the Purple Heart in the last four months. It sucks to be us."


Consider this headline and story in USA Today:
Stability coming back to streets of Baghdad

Inspector Adnan Kadhum of the Baghdad traffic police says he noticed the change about 10 days ago: The city's notoriously unruly drivers suddenly started obeying his commands. They stopped when he signaled for them to stop; they went when he signaled for them to go.

"Before, you found hardly anyone listening to you," the 27-year police force veteran says. Kadhum, 48, spent his days flailing around in 105-degree heat, sometimes waving his pistol in a futile attempt to make motorists follow his commands. "Now, by barely moving my hand, I get respect."

Iraq's interim government, which began exerting influence even before it officially took political power last week, seems to be restoring a semblance of order to Baghdad's lawless streets. It's unclear how much the new respect for authority reflects Iraqi pride in getting their government back from U.S. occupation forces and how much it reflects fear of the new prime minister, Iyad Allawi, and his beefed-up security forces.

Either way, the difference is visible. Iraqi police patrols are roaming the city in brand-new Toyota Land Cruisers. Baghdad's streets are still chaotic by any reasonable standard. But there are noticeably fewer cars moving at high speeds, weaving in and out of traffic or careening the wrong way down city boulevards. Most of all, more than a week went by without a major insurgent attack in the city — until a gunbattle broke out Wednesday in central Baghdad.
Of course, they don't give our troops any credit...but folks smarter than me have long contended that amazing things are possible so long as one doesn't care about who gets the credit.
NATO officials today met with top Iraqi officials in Baghdad to discuss the alliance's offer to help train Iraqi security forces.

U.S. Admiral Gregory Johnson headed the delegation, which met with Iraqi Defense Minister Hazim Shalan al-Khuza'i.

The UN attempts to tell the USA what's what with nuclear materials inside Iraq.

Yes...the same UN that closed its short-lived offices in Iraq because the US couldn't guarantee its security.
Did the United States have the proper authority to take some materials out of Iraq last month?

There's a dispute over that question.

United Nations nuclear officials apparently disagree with America's claims that it had the authority to transfer highly radioactive material from Iraq.

Officials believe the nearly two tons of uranium and other radioactive items could be used in bombs to spread radiation. The material had been placed under seal by the U-N's nuclear agency at a Baghdad-area nuclear complex.

The U-S revealed recently that the material has been airlifted to an Energy Department lab for more analysis. U-N officials say the U-S never asked them for permission first.

But American officials say they believe they had the legal authority to remove the materials -- and that they had the Iraqi government's permission.

O wise man, wash your hands of that friend who associates with your enemies. - Saadi (1184 - 1291)
Another member of the legal team is Washington, D.C. lawyer Curtis Doebbler, whose track record shows this isn't the first time he has advised opponents of the United States.

Doebbler is currently one of about 20 lawyers appointed by Saddam's wife, Sajida, to represent the deposed Iraqi dictator...

According to biographies posted on the Internet, Doebbler served as an adviser to the Taliban on the laws of war and consulted with detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. Biographies also state that he advised the Palestinian Authority, but Israel has prohibited him from returning to the occupied territories.

Doebbler has advised the government of Sudan on human rights, according to his website. Sudan is on the State Department's list of state-sponsors of terrorism. And he has written that the United States illegally occupied Afghanistan and Iraq.

"I believe that all people have a right and a duty to take all necessary measures to end the United States' inhumane dominance of the lives of billions of people," wrote Doebbler in a statement on his political views.

Doebbler has also published several poems online, including one that begins with the line "I am at war with America."
And while we're at would appear that being Saddam's lawyer might be one tough gig.
Brandishing assault rifles and grenade launchers, masked Islamists have threatened in a taped message to behead any lawyers defending deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

"Saif al-Allah (The Sword of God) group, belonging to the Islamic Jihad, warns all those who defend the criminal file of the cowardly criminal Saddam ... that we will sever your necks before you arrive," one gunman read from a piece of paper.

The gunman, from a previously unknown group, said in the tape given to Reuters that the warning was for "the Iraqi, Arab and foreign lawyers who have taken on the case of the criminal Saddam"...

Saddam's trial is not expected to begin for months but a more than 21-strong team of mainly Arab lawyers with power of attorney granted by Saddam's wife Sajida Khairallah have voiced fears about their personal safety in Iraq.

"We are getting one threat after the other," team coordinator Mohammed Rashdan said on Wednesday...

The seven gunmen, faces hidden by chequered head-dresses, said they would bring God's justice down on the heads of anyone who sought to defend the former president, accused of gassing Iraq's Kurds, crushing a Shi'ite uprising, and condemning countless Iraqis to death in his dreaded torture chambers.

"We will sentence you with cutting off your heads," one of the gunmen said, as they all drew out long glistening blades.
Look, guys...I know that Allah has apparently appointed you chief jurist and executioner (seemingly along with about every other Arab who can get his hands on a sword, grenade, car bomb, bomb vest, etc)...for whatever cause moves you to hide your face and spout really brave threats before the camera...but I'm thinking you haven't quite been paying attention to the changes happening in Iraq. Quick...get a calendar...LOOK! The year is no longer 437. Things have changed.

There is an old saying that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. However, since you guys got that whole "jihad" thing in your group's name, I'm keeping my distance. OK?

Oh...and just for the guys are beginning to sound a bit like the Queen of Hearts.

A really nice gesture by Drew Olanoff and actor Wil Wheaton (Cadet Wesley Crusher to trekkies) to give the hard to get Gmail accounts for deployed soldiers and their families.
There appears to be such a thing as a free lunch for deployed troops and their families.

Now it’s a matter of feeding them, so to speak.

Some self-professed computer geeks have joined to give deployed troops access to invitations for Google’s free e-mail service, Gmail, which offers an unprecedented one gigabyte of storage that will let them share photographs and videos across the Internet.

Gmail is currently available to the public only through the much-coveted invitations, which let users test it out as Google experiments with the software. Demand for the invitations is so high that they are being auctioned on eBay, and Internet sites have popped up where people barter deeds — mostly good deeds — in exchange for an invitation.

Now, invitations for the free e-mail accounts are available for troops overseas, particularly those serving in combat zones, said Anne Mitchell, president and CEO of the California-based consulting firm Institute for Spam and Internet Public Policy.

To register, troops need to log on to and select “request an invite.”

Day 424 of CPT Patti's deployment.

Fourteen months and two days. In less numerical terms that translates to oh, about, forever.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

I almost missed this.
"Just as we mourn for the victims of Saddam's regime, we also grieve for the Americans and Iraqis who were killed or injured during the liberation or by terrorists determined to hold us back. We will honor those who have sacrificed for our freedom by building a new Iraq that lives in peace with the nations of the world, without fear of war, torture chambers or terrorism."...

"As Iraqis assume full sovereignty over our nation, we extend our hands in friendship and gratitude to the American people. The sacrifices your sons and daughters made for our liberation will never be forgotten. Without those brave young men and women, this day might never have come."

The open letter was organized by the Iraq-America Friendship Alliance (IAFA), a new coalition of Iraqi and American organizations and individuals committed to fostering goodwill between the two nations, supporting Iraq's reconstruction and movement toward democracy and telling the untold story from Iraq.
(via Iraq the Model)
Its only three days now and the Iraqi TV stations are reporting about the heroic activities of the IPs...These are IPs arresting Iraqi criminals whom we (Iraqis) know just when we look at them. That’s what would make the difference from now on...

Iraqis now know that the Arab media are the enemy and we don’t believe what they say, but knowing the bright side of the story is another important matter which is the duty of all Iraqis who know it, starting with the government ending with all educated wise people who can take role in rebuilding the mentality of the Iraqi people to start rebuilding Iraq.

We will need help from all our friends and allies to overtake the critical time we are living, and we can’t forget the help and support we obtained from them till now.

But as I knew that we would be free about a year ago I know at this moment that we would be a safe advanced peaceful democratic country heading to prosperity, and model for all countries in the ME region……………..God Bless Iraq.

That freedom is breaking up that old gang of mine (with my apologies to The Four Aces)

Consider this something like the consumer confidence index...except this one includes men prancing with feathered poles...
But despite the unrest - or perhaps partly because of it - the number of marriages has nearly doubled since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003.

"The people I see are not affected by insecurity - I've had a 75-percent increase," says Muhammad Jawad Talikh, a marriage judge in the neighborhood of Kerrada for the past 32 years. "Young people are wishing for a better life, so they come to me and get married."

Karim Haider, deputy clerk at the Kerrada marriage court, registered 1,460 marriages in all of 2002. From May 1 to the end of 2003 - just seven months - he clocked 1,468. "And it's still increasing, every day," he says, stamping a flutter of engagement papers with an official seal.

"This year, we've been having weddings here almost every day," says Thamer Salim, the manager of Mashriq, a wedding hall that caters primarily to Iraqi Christians. Mashriq's accountant, Raed Khalil, estimates that the hall has twice as many weddings as before the war, mostly couples in their twenties.

I spend several hours most days searching out stories about what is going on in Iraq.

I don't recall seeing more than the occasional passing article on this effort...which is too bad. This is much more worthy of attention than much of the junk the media fixates on.
I spent six months in Baghdad in 2003 working with Iraqis to devise a strategy for bringing Saddam Hussein and his cronies to account. Mr. Hussein's appearance before an Iraqi judge last week was the culmination of a remarkable collaboration between the American-led coalition and Iraqi jurists. It also marked an important new stage in the evolution of international justice.

For probably the first time in history a country will put its former leaders on trial under international criminal law in a locally constituted court. Unlike its United Nations-sponsored cousins in The Hague and Sierra Leone, the Iraqi Special Tribunal empowers local officials to bring the perpetrators of atrocity crimes to trial. International financing will go where it will do the most good — toward rebuilding Iraq's judiciary and ensuring that the victims of Mr. Hussein's regime are finally heard.

The coalition authority spent almost six months formulating tribunal plans with Iraqis. It organized working groups and conferences on subjects as diverse as truth and reconciliation commissions and forensic anthropology. Throughout these sessions, which were open to the public, one message came across loud and clear: Iraqis wanted to see Mr. Hussein tried by Iraqis.

Coalition advisers worked closely with Iraqi lawyers to ensure that the tribunal statute we created was in harmony with the latest developments in international criminal law. Much thought was also given to developing an investigative strategy that would help Iraqis make sense of a seemingly endless catalog of crimes — approximately 300,000 dead, and thousands more tortured, raped and otherwise abused over a period of more than 30 years...

It is vital that the cases heard by the tribunal address the full spectrum of the regime's atrocities. People all across Iraq experienced human rights abuses under Saddam Hussein. In a fragmented country, this is a rare unifying factor. The tribunal's defendants have been selected with an eye toward providing a thorough and representative accounting of these crimes.

Equally significant: defendants will face penalties under Iraqi law — not penalties deemed appropriate by the international community. There is little likelihood, then, that Mr. Hussein will live out his days in a comfortable Dutch prison. Nor will Iraqis have to suffer the absurdity of the so-called Rwandan paradox, where the worst that can befall mass murderers brought before the United Nations tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania, is life imprisonment while low-level offenders, brought before local courts in Rwanda, face the death penalty.

The best part of this website running experience has been connecting with folks whose own stories inspire me.

This week I received a note from a Police Captain back home in the USA...he included a photo of his children standing before the Korean War Memorial in Washington, DC.

The Captain had this to say:
We work very hard at making sure that our children know that freedom is not free and that many make sacrifices (including the ultimate sacrifice) to ensure that we are able to carry on with the finest American traditions.
And I'm thinking to myself that I can quantify the number of days CPT Patti has been in the war zone...more to the point I can point to a date on the calendar with an idea, however evanescent, that after that date CPT Patti is out of the war zone.

And then I think of the Police Captain's family, whose wife and children don't really have that luxury - haven't had for a couple of decades, since at any time during his day a policeman's world can erupt into a war-like zone of its own.

And then I read that he and his wife work hard to teach their children that some make sacrifices for America.

Seems to me he teaches them that lesson every day he puts on his uniform and heads out to work.

Anyway...wanted you to see a photo of some really good looking kids before the Korean War who are being raised by folks you can respect, deep in the heart of the America I Live In.

And thanks to you and the Mrs...for all the good that you contribute.


- Bonnie Raitt, Let's Give Em Something To Talk About

Is it just me?

And the theme is continued here.

Unfortunate headline reported by the AP:
Bush backs war in West Virginia
(via the OpinionJournal Best of the Web Today.)

If you haven't yet subscribed, you are missing what could be the best 10 minutes of your day.

Personally, I'm glad to see the Iraqis demonstrating anger over this thug and his attempts to hijack their religion, country and very young Democracy. One doesn't have to be a patsy to be on the side of the good guys.

As to their methods...well...when in Baghdad...
A group of armed, masked Iraqi men threatened Tuesday to kill Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi if he did not immediately leave the country, accusing him of murdering innocent Iraqis and defiling the Muslim religion.

The threats revealed the deep anger many Iraqis, including insurgent groups, feel toward foreign fighters, whom many consider as illegitimate a presence here as the 160,000 U.S. and other coalition troops.

In a videotape sent to the al-Arabiya television station, a group calling itself the "Salvation Movement," questioned how al-Zarqawi could use Islam to justify the killing of innocent civilians, the targeting of government officials and the kidnapping and beheading of foreigners.

"He must leave Iraq immediately, he and his followers and everyone who gives shelter to him and his criminal actions," said a man on the video.

The video marked the first time that an Iraqi group made such a public threat against al-Zarqawi.

It was issued a day after U.S.-led coalition forces, who have been targeting al-Zarqawi, launched an air strike in the restive city of Fallujah on a suspected safe house used by his followers. The attack killed 15 people, witnesses said.

In the video, three men, their faces covered with Arab headscarves, were flanked by rocket propelled grenades and an Iraqi flag. The man speaking had a clear Iraqi accent.

"We swear to Allah that we have started preparing ... to capture him and his allies or kill them and present them as gift to our people." the man said. "This is the last warning. If you don't stop, we will do to you what the coalition forces have failed to do."

Day 423 of CPT Patti's deployment.

One year, eight weeks, one day.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

U.S. Marine Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, who was captured in Iraq, has been freed and is well, members of his family in Lebanon told the Associated Press today, saying they received ``reliable information'' about him.

``We received a sign from my brother reassuring us,'' Hassoun's brother, Sami, told AP without specifying the nature of the information.
Of course, this is the sort of good news that can only exist by the prior creation of really bad this case, the kidnapping.

Not only that, but reports on some redneck-Islamist website claimed this Marine had been the captors have put this family through hell.
Edward Chaplin arrived in Baghdad today to begin work as Britain's ambassador to Iraq, the first to head a British embassy in the country since the U.K. ended diplomatic relations with Saddam Hussein's regime before the 1991 Gulf War, the Foreign Office in London said.

MG Dempsey's remarks from the Casing of the Colors ceremony on the 4th of July.
LTG Metz, CSM Gainey, Iron Soldiers, Family Members linked to us by VTC from Germany.

Fifteen months ago, the group of Soldiers before you — Soldiers of the First Armored Division and Dragoons of the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment — formed a task force and set out to make the world safer for their fellow Americans and provide an opportunity for the Iraqi people to be free. They did.

Three months ago, this same group of Soldiers was asked to remain in Iraq to defeat a militia uprising and to preserve the path toward Iraqi sovereignty. They did that too.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are Iron Soldiers, and I’m proud to be their commander.

Now we’re going home.

I hope you are all as proud of what you have accomplished as i am of you.

The colors we just cased are part of what defines us. In an Army of hundreds of thousands, they are uniquely ours.

For generations, they have been carried into battle by men and women like you against the enemies of freedom. If those previous generations of Iron Soldiers were with us today, they would say to you “well done. You have made us proud.”

Sometime soon, we will add another battle streamer to those colors. That simple strip of silk will represent many things.

It will represent more than a year of your lives.

It will represent your 135 fellow soldiers who gave their lives for this mission and who made the journey home ahead of us.

It will represent your great courage in battle.

It will represent your remarkable stamina over the past 15 months.

It will represent your unshakable honor, tested in the most complex environment imaginable.

It will represent your immeasurable sacrifice and the sacrifice of your families.

Forever more, it will represent you.

From this point on in your careers, and long into your retirements, you should never look upon these colors the same again. These are truly your colors now. You have earned the right to stand tall behind them.

Today we also celebrate our Independence Day. It seems fitting that we end our mission on this great American holiday that celebrates our freedom.

We have learned a lot about the price of freedom.

We have learned that people experiencing freedom for the first time may not understand how fragile it can be and how much sacrifice may be required to earn it and preserve it.
I am confident that our actions have shown the Iraqi people how much we value our freedom. It is a shining example that cannot be ignored.

And we have learned that even people who have lived in freedom may not fully comprehend the profound care it requires. It was, after all, Thomas Jefferson who said “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time by the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

You will never feel the same about Independence Day again. At least I hope you don’t.

We know what we’ve accomplished here in Iraq. First in Baghdad and then in the southern provinces.

But, if you’ve forgotten, I will summarize it for you: We did our duty. Nothing more and certainly nothing less.

As the history of this military campaign is written, it will be said of task force First Armored Division: they did their best for their country, for their unit, for each other, and for the people of Iraq. That is our legacy.

Well done, Iron Soldiers—thank you for your service to our nation.

May God continue to protect us as we begin our journey to rejoin our families in Germany and at Fort Polk.

And may God bless America.

Continue mission.

Iron soldiers.

How do you handle it when your neighbor offers to house sit, but you don't trust your neighbor?
Baghdad has already rejected offers from several neighbors to send peacekeepers to Iraq, saying such a move could add to the country's unrest...

Deputy Foreign Minister Hamid al-Bayati spoke to RFE/RL about the issue of Arab troops. He said while Iraq is eager for help from its neighbors, it does not want their troops deployed on its territory.

"Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, and Morocco [are offering help]," al-Bayati said. "However, as regards sending troops, we have our reservations about neighboring countries sending troops. But I think we [would welcome] any kind of assistance, such as training and providing equipment and even exchanging information about terrorists and criminals."

Jordan is the only one of those countries, which directly borders Iraq. Al-Bayati said the deployment of Jordanian troops would make it difficult for Baghdad to refuse troops from other direct neighbors, such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, or Iran.
In other words, keep your rotten troops from collosal failure governments off our freshly earned Democracy, as we see in the next part of the same story.
The Foreign Ministry in Baghdad has accused outside countries of supporting Islamic extremists operating in Iraq. While it has not named specific countries, Baghdad is believed to suspect Tehran and Damascus of aiding the insurgency. the way...did you know this? I didn't!
Iraq is a full-fledged member of the United Nations but it still has no voting rights because the country is unable to pay its debts to the organization. Al-Bayati expressed a wish the UN would forgive or reduce Baghdad's debt.
I'm pretty amazed the UN hasn't rectified this already.

My nomination for school song for every journalism school in the USA.

Note this little story which focuses on the growing pains of the brand new Iraqi national guard.
On tiptoes, the child handed the poster to the Iraqi soldier manning a machine gun, as U.S. soldiers watched in dismay. The Iraqi soldier, part of a nascent security force trained and funded by the United States, held Sadr's picture aloft for a gathering, cheering mob...

Unable to shoulder Iraq's security responsibilities on their own, the Iraqi forces are nonetheless testing the limits of their new relationship with U.S. troops, including openly expressing sympathies for the most resolute enemies of the United States.
Are you sufficiently demoralized yet? Well don't be. Because, as seems to be more and more common these days with our media, the good news doesn't show up until paragraph 5 (if it shows up at all).

Here is what paragraph 5 says:
The Iraqi National Guardsmen who displayed the Sadr poster said they did so under threat of attack, and as a group they provided a useful security perimeter for the U.S. soldiers. In other regions of Iraq, more seasoned guard units have been given high marks by U.S. soldiers with the important task of training the new Iraqi security forces. On Sunday, in the city of Baqubah, 35 northeast of Baghdad, Iraqi National Guardsmen discovered a car bomb and two passengers fitted with suicide vests. In the ensuing gunfight, the car caught fire but did not explode. Both of the alleged attackers were killed.
I suppose it must sell papers or something.

Me...I'd like to see it where the postive steps forward are not treated as an aside, an "also-ran".
But for the Army's 1st Armored Division, which has seen 15 months of continuous duty in Iraq, longer than any other military unit, this Independence Day took on special meaning.

These 20,000 soldiers were getting ready for a ride home that was three months overdue.

The morning began with a "casing of the colors" ceremony overseen by division commander Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey. The lowering of his task force's flags marked the official end of its mission to provide security in and around Baghdad — and recently, to lead the battle against Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia in Karbala and Najaf.

The tank division, which was formed a year before the U.S. entry into World War II and known as "Old Ironsides," was packing up to return to its base in Germany in April. But the outbreak of parallel uprisings in Fallujah and Najaf created an emergency for the already stretched forces here, and the Pentagon delayed the exit.

At the departure ceremony, held in the shadow of a vast Iraqi hangar, Dempsey recalled the 136 troops from his division who died in Iraq — about 16 percent of the U.S. death toll of 858 — and the more than 1,000 who suffered serious wounds.

"We have learned a lot about the price of freedom," he said. "We learned that people experiencing freedom for the first time may not understand how fragile it can be and how much sacrifice may be required to earn it and preserve it."

Quoting Thomas Jefferson, he reminded the troops that the "tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and of tyrants."

"We did our duty, nothing more, and certainly nothing less," he concluded. "Well done, Iron soldiers."

One of the tank officers going home, Lt. Col. Randy Lane, originally from a suburb of Cincinnati, was watching his troops make final checks of Abrams tanks loaded onto the back of flatbed trucks for the 24-hour drive to Kuwait.

"I feel pretty good about it," Lane said. He said he is looking forward to joining his wife and children in Germany. "It's Independence Day for the country and independence day for us — that's a double blessing in one day."


Some excerpts of stories about how the soldiers observed our own Freedom Day.

A story set at Camp Victory.
Like many military operations in Iraq, July 4th celebrations began at dawn.

To beat the brutal summer heat, soldiers wanting to participate in a 10-kilometer fun run at Camp Victory, on the outskirts of Baghdad, gathered at 5:30 a.m., when the temperature dropped to 80 degrees.

The run was the first in a series of events giving soldiers, those not on guard duty or combat patrol, a chance to enjoy the most American of holidays.

The only beer soldiers in Iraq are allowed to drink is nonalcoholic, but at the mess halls, cooks set up outdoor grills to barbecue T-bone steaks, burgers, hot dogs and chicken. Cakes and pies were decorated in red, white and blue icing at the mess hall, where James Brown played over the speakers.

For the combat soldiers on duty, there was no letup. U.S. commanders did not want to slow their operations on July 4 for fear insurgents would use the day for a symbolic attack.
And that story continued in another news source...
"We're going to maintain offensive operations," Col. Michael Formica, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division's 2nd Brigade. "We're going to continue to push the enemy."

But he said that there would be other celebrations later in the month to make up for the busy schedule.

The one thing missing was fireworks.

"At least not from our side," one officer wisecracked.

But in Saddam Hussein's former stronghold of Tikrit, soldiers watched fireworks light the night sky as they held a joint celebration with Iraqi National Guard soldiers on a bank overlooking the Tigris. Thousands of troops celebrated at one of Saddam's old palaces with a buffet featuring burgers and hot dogs and traditional Iraqi dishes.
Consider, please, the impression that must have been made on the Iraqis, for most of whom freedom is a new and untested concept. Consider how remarkable it must be to see 20 somethings from the US Army throw a party in the miserable summer heat in Baghdad to celebrate our own independence 228 years ago.

They must imagine that one could get used to this whole idea of freedom.

1st AD takes a giant step toward home

...“It’s Fourth of July — Independence Day,” said Staff Sgt. Renaldo Valentin-Rivera of San Sebastian, Puerto Rico. “They chose a nice day for us to close out this deployment.”...

Sunday’s casing of colors, a ceremony in which the division’s flags are put away to signal its departure from the battlefield, was another step in the trip home. The colors will be uncased when the troops are back in Germany.

Day 422 of CPT Patti's deployment.

One year, two months. Fourteen months...aka...long time.

Bear with me here please...the website seems to be having some difficulties in accepting new postings today. I'll do my best!